Friday, August 11, 2023

Varsity basketball players give back to community by training younger players

By Matt Pascarella

When Windham High varsity senior Erik Bowen and varsity sophomore AJ Moody were up-and-coming basketball players, they had older players they trained with and looked up to. To inspire and help a new generation of younger Windham players, Bowen and Moody recently started conducting training sessions in a newly built gym at Moody’s home.

Windham participants work on their basketball
skills with WHS varsity players Erik Bowen
and AJ Moody during basketball training
sessions on July 25 in Windham.
“When they come here, it’s not like [we] want them to be like us, said Moody. “You want them to be better than you. So ... they can achieve more and love the game more.”

Kids come in and talk to them about what they want to work on. Sometimes Bowen and Moody have a plan and sometimes they’ll implement shooting and dribbling drills into a training session.

Bowen and Moody offer one-on-one sessions or trainings in small groups. They’ll referee games so participants can utilize the skills being taught to them. They also offer open gym sessions and will soon be announcing a middle school 3-on-3 league.

The main focus is basketball, but they also want to bring fun and a love of the game into their training sessions. If you want to succeed at the game, you really need to develop a passion for it, and Bowen and Moody are working to accomplish that with their participants.

“We’re trying to get them better but also have them have a fun time and teach them skills like relationship building,” said Bowen.

Sixth grader Julia Call and third grader Callen Call said they have enjoyed these basketball trainings.

Julia Call said the training shows her how to shoot better and make her dribbling moves work better.

Callen Call says Bowen and Moody make skills, drills, and scrimmages more fun.

Some of the drills Bowen and Moody teach to participants are the same drills they work on during their varsity practices. If the younger participants who learn those drills know and develop that muscle memory, it can only help them as they progress in the sport.

Bowen said using what they’ve learned in practice also helps them too. If they’re teaching what they are practicing, that’s going to increase Bowen and Moody’s muscle memory and they’ll do better on the court.

“[I like] talking to the youth and wanting them to be in my position one day,” said Moody. “And to let them know, it’s going to be one nice ride.”

There is a varying cost to the training depending on what you’re looking for. Bowen and Moody are planning to donate some of their funds to the Dempsey Center as well as put some of their money back into their trainings.

“Younger kids aren’t going to come up and tell you they look up to you, but I know they look up to us,” said Bowen. “Trying to create a more personable connection with the younger people that are the future of our community and our basketball program; it’s been nice.”

Moody said if he had had an opportunity like this when he was younger, he would have taken advantage of it. He wants to take his energy and love of the game and give that to the little kids he is teaching so that they can become better basketball players.

“It’s impressive to have these older kids give back,” said Julia and Callen’s father, Chris Call.

Both Bowen and Moody say they are trying to leave the Windham basketball program better than they found it.

They’ve gotten more of a response to their training sessions than expected, and there is still time to sign up by calling 207-239-9576 or 207-838-1604. <

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